DISTRICT PLANNING PROGRAM
PREPARED BY THE BOSTON REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
PLANNING DEPARTMENT, SPRING, 1969
LOCATION OF DORCHESTER
AND OTHER PLANNING
DISTRICTS IN BOSTON
1. East Boston
2 . Chariest own
5. South Boston
5 . Back Bay
6 . South End
7 . Fenway - Kenmore
10. Model Cities
11. Jamaica Plain
12 . Roslindale
13. West Roxhury
14. Hyde Park
DISTRICT PLANNING PROGRAM
BOSTON REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
DORCHESTER DISTRICT FLAMING PROGRAM
In order to establish a meaningful planning process for
improving Boston's neighborhoods. Mayor Kevin H. White
has requested the Boston Redevelopment Authority's
Planning Department to participate with the Office of
Public Service in undertaking a "District Planning
Pi'ogram." Dorchester is the first in a series of
systematic planning efforts to be initiated imder this
program in neighborhoods throughout the City. The major
focus of the District Planning Program in Dorchester will
be to ensure that new improvement programs reflect the
needs of the community as expressed by its residents in
mutual cooperation with the City's administration.
To this end and to develop a community consensus on a number
of planning issues, a Dorchester Advisory Committee wi]_L
be established by the Dorchester community with the assistance
of the Neighborhood Service Center (little city hall)
managers. The Dorchester Advisory Committee would bring
together people from all over Dorchester who represent a
cross -section of community interests and needs. In turn,
the Boston Redevelopment Authority Planning Department will
provide technical planning assistance to the Dorchester
Advisory Committee with the cooperation of the Neighborhood
Service Center Manager.
The main products of the Dorchester District Planning Program
1. A report on existing conditions, problems, assets and
opportimities in Dorchester.
2. The establishment of a process for:
(a) undertaking immediate actions to meet pressing needs
(b) developing longer range plans for programmed improve-
ment of public facilities, housing, recreation, business
and industry and other subjects of community interest.
In addition, the BRA staff will develop interim reports
on specific issues and on the entire program as required
by the Dorchester Advisory Committee.
LOCATION OF DORCHESTER PLANNING DISTRICT
The Dorchester Planning District consists of all of Dor-
chester, with the exception of that portion which lies within
the boundaries of the Model Cities area. The area covered
in this report is bounded by the Southeast Expressway on the
north, the Neponset River on the south, Dorchester Bay on
the east and the Midland Division of the New York, New
Haven and Hartford Railroad, a portion of the American Legion
Highway, Harvard Street, Cummins Highway, Greenfield Street
and Mattakeeset Street on the west.
Digitized by tine Internet Arcliive
MAP OF DORCHESTER \,
DISTRICT PLANNING PROGRAM
BOSTON REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
SUMMARY OF EXISTING CHARACTERISTICS OF DORCHESTER
The data collected from the BEIA staff surveys in Dorchester
and detailed in this report, represents an attempt to iden-
tify the community's problems as well as its assets, and to
describe generally the various options now available to
Dorchester as aides for problem solving. This report, then,
is not a plan and is not proposing specific solutions for
the Dorchester community. It is hoped, however, that the
discussions provided herein will serve as the first of many
dialogues between the community and the planning staff and
will provide direction to Dorchester residents in their own
planning for community improvement.
A staff field survey (summer, 1968) provided information on
land use, building conditions and environmental and visual
characteristics in Dorchester. Further research involving
discussions with commimity leaders and various neighborhood
associations and civic organizations provided additional
insight into specific community problems. While Dorchester
does have areas which need improvement, it is a coramimity
which also has many assets. The following is a summary of
the assets and problems which are presented in this report
in more detail.
1. In 1960, residents of most of the Dorchester study area
had incomes slightly higher (median family income of almost
$6,200) than residents in other parts of the City ($5,747
for Boston as a whole ) .
2. Over half of Dorchester's 44,000 housing \mits are lo-
cated in three and four unit structures (more commonly
known as "three deckers" ) which provide spacious living
accommodations at moderate rents. In addition, one-third of
the housing stock is located in other types of multi-unit
3. Rents in Dorchester have increased only moderately when
compared with increases in other areas of the City.
4. While Dorchester is predominantly a residential area,
numerous areas of commercial and industrial development
provide needed community services.
5 . The Dorchester Planning Area is well served by over
340 acres of parks and recreation facilities in 50 separate
6. Many specialized institutional facilities such as major
hospitals and religious seminaries are located in the south-
ern portions of Dorchester.
7. Mass transportation service to Dorchester is good. Six
rapid transit stops serve the study area providing rapid ac-
cess to downtown Boston. In addition to this transit service,
a high speed trolley line runs "between the Ashmont terminal of
the Red Line and Mattapan Square. Approximately 30 bus routes
through Dorchester link most of the neighborhoods to transit
1. Young people continue to move to the suburbs leaving
parents and grandparents behind. The result has been that
between 1950 and I960, the Dorchester study area lost 13^
of the age group 18-39 years.
2. About 1Z$ of the housing supply was classified as either
deteriorating or dilapidated in 1960. Our recent reconnais-
sance survey of Dorchester indicates that the downward trend
in housing conditions has not subsided.
3. In many instances, the pattern of land uses in Dorchester
is mixed and results in adverse effects such as deterioration.
Examples of conflict in land uses include mixing of in-
dustrial uses with housing. In addition, the dual use of
major streets for through traffic and parking cause con-
gestion in certain business districts.
4. Very few private housing imits have been constructed
in the northern neighborhoods of Dorchester. Most new
units have been constructed in the southern neighborhoods.
5 . In areas of strip commercial activity, residential
structures have been converted to include commercial space,
much of which is poorly maintained and contributes to a
dilapidated appearance. In addition, these strip commercial
activities contribute to traffic congestion due to lack of
off-street parking facilities.
6. While public facilities are dispersed throughout the
area, many of them are old and in fair to poor condition.
7. While parks and recreation areas have an adequate
acreage and are dispersed throughout the area, the condition
of most of these facilities is poor and many are in need of
8. Many of the public schools are small, old, overcrowded
and are located on Inadequate sites. In some cases, several
small schools are located within a few blocks of each other
while many others are far apart .
9. Dorchester's street system is adequate to accommodate
ordinary traffic volumes. However, in congested areas such
as business districts, traffic congestion occurs during peak
hours because of little, if any, reserve capacity.
10. Since Dorchester is primarily a residential and not an
industrial area, employment opportunities are limited. In
addition, very little vacant land remains which is appropriate
for future industrial development .
DISTRICT PLANNING PROGRAM
BOSTON REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
DESC3^IPTI0N OF NEIGHBORHOODS
NEW MARKET SQUARE
1. Industrial ■buildings are in generally good condition.
2. This area is a planned industrial development with
excellent access to expressways.
EDWARD EVERETT SQUARE
1. Located near the square is the Dorchester Historical
Society, a good example of early American architectiore .
1. Housing in this neighborhood is gradually deteriorating,
particularly near the industrial areas to the north.
1. Housing is in relatively good condition although there
are a few homes needing major repairs in almost every
1. The haphazard mixture of commercial, industrial and
residential uses has caused traffic congestion and contri-
buted to the general decline of the area.
2. There is a lack of parking space in the vicinity of
lo Good views of Dorchester Bay are available from the Point.
2. The public housing project provides low-cost housing
to many lower income families.
3o Good health services are available to the residents.
4o Relatively new schools and a large shopping center are
COLUMBIA POINT cont.
1. Much of the land remains undeveloped and the existing
playground lacks landscaping and is poorly maintained.
2. The housing project is poorly maintained and lacks many
3. Despite new development, the peninsula community remains
isolated from other neighborhoods of Dorchester.
1. Housing is in generally satisfactory condition, although
there are pockets of deterioration.
2. The combination of interesting old homes and varied
topography makes Savin Hill one of Dorchester ' s potentially
fine residential neighborhoods.
3. Malibu Beach, if properly linked to the Dorchester
community, would provide a greater resource of commimity
1. Savin Hill Park is separated from the balance of the
•community by the Southeast Expressway and is not easily
reached from other sections of Dorchester.
2o Industrial development along the west side of the Penn
Central Railroad is contributing to continuing deterioration.
3o Industrial uses and the expressway separate most of
the residential community from Malibu Beach.
MEETING HOUSE HILL
lo Good views to the sea and large acreage for recreational
activities are available at Ronan Park.
lo The residential area is characterized by gradually
2« Blighted commercial concentrations and traffic congestion
are prevalent .
1. This predominantly residential coramimity is composed of
many soimd structures.
1. The area west of Washington Street, however, is beginning
to show signs of deterioration; and there is much evidence
of property neglect along the Penn Central tracks.
2. Heavy traffic on Washington Street and lack of off-street
parking facilities is prevalent.
1. A new library is presently under construction and a
Neighborhood Service Center (little city hall) has been
1. The neighborhood is generally deteriorating with resi-
dential uses occupying less than half of its land area.
2. At least one third of the dwellings are in poor condition
requiring major repairs.
3. Many areas of incompatible uses (i.e., junkyards and
industrial buildings) are mixed with residential buildings.
1. The neighborhood has extensive parkland which provides
many recreational activities for Dorchester residents.
1. Homes in the neighborhood are in fair to poor condition,
with buildings in need of major repairs located adjacent to
1. The Second Church in Dorchester, located in the main
square, is a community landmark.
CODMM SQUARE cont
2. Two major community facilities, Dorchester High School
and the Roberts Playground, are located in this neighborhood.
1. The area is a predominantly residential neighborhood
composed of structures which are characterized as generally
2. Housing near or adjacent to the railroad is in particu-
larly poor condition.
1. The neighborhood is primarily a residential community
composed of a large number of sound structures,
2o The area is particularly well served by rapid transit,
with the Ashmont Station easily accessible to all neighbor-
3o Wilson Jimior High School and Dorchester High School
Annex are located in this section.
lo Homes in poor condition are found adjacent to many
1. The western section of the area is characterized by
well -maintained residential dwellings.
2. Several locations on Pope's Hill provide good views of
3. Two sizable playgrounds (McMorrow and Hemenway) are
located in the neighborhood.
1. Although the eastern boimdary of Pope's Hill borders
Dorchester Bay, no recreation areas have been developed
along the shore.
lo Some of the structures in the area sometimes referred
to as Port Norfolk are good examples of Victorian architecture.
2. A major recreation area, Tenean Beach, is located
in this neighborhood.
1. The small, residential section is surrounded by several
marine oriented commercial and industrial uses.
2. Most of the structures in this section are in fair to
1. This neighborhood is a residential community of homes
in good condition.
2. Major community facilities include the Adams Street
library and a fire station.
1. The commercial uses developing along Gallivan Boulevard
are causing hazardous traffic problems due to the many
access points available within a short strip. In addition,
residential deterioration is beginning to occur around this
commercial development .
2. The residential area south of Gallivan Boulevard, although
in good condition, is generally barren of street trees and
is visually unattractive.
1. Housing structures in the neighborhood are in good
condition and streets, yards and sidewalks are generally
2. The topography, river and old mill buildings in Pierce
Square combine to create a potentially handsome space.
3. Several large open spaces, including Neponset Reserva-
tion and Dorchester Park, are located in the area.
LOWER MILLS cont .
1. While the old mill buildings are of interest visually,
the incompatible land uses in this area (i.e., mixed
commercial, industrial and residential uses) are contribu-
ting to the deterioration of surroimding structures.
1. The neighborhood is composed of we 11 -maintained homes
needing few major repairs.
2. A Neighborhood Service Center (little city hall) is
located at Blue Hill Avenue at Morton Street.
3c Large tracts of vacant land are still found in the area
which have good development potential.
4. Community facilities include the Boston Sanitorium and
Preventorium, and the Almont Street and George Walker
1. While Mattapan Square is one of Boston's major gateways,
the disjointed character of the commercial development
dissipates the effect.
OPPORTUNITIES FOR IMPLEMENTING PROPOSALS FOR
Many of the problems discussed can be solved through programs
involving long-term, low-interest loans and grants for the
rehabilitation of housing, improved zoning, code enforce-
ment, capital improvement plans and special social and
economic programs such as the new Neighborhood Development
Program. A brief listing of some of the improvement programs
which will be investigated for application in Dorchester
1. Neighborhood Facilities Program ;
This federally funded program, administered by the Department
of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), may provide grants
up to two-thirds of development costs of neighborhood
facilities such as a community center for accommodating
programs of community service.
2 . Urban Beaut if i cat ion Program ;
Another HUD administered program, the federal Urban
Beautif ication Program, may fund up to fifty percent of
the development costs of existing recreation sites.
3 . Open Space Land Program ;
This HUD program may cover costs up to fifty percent of
acquisition, demolition and development of new recreation
4. Outdoor Recreation Assistance ;
Financial assistance is available to Massachusetts and
Boston for planning, acquiring and developing outdoor
recreation areas and facilities. Grants are made on a
50-50 basis for approved projects by the State Department
of Natural Resources and Biireau of Outdoor Recreation.
5 . Housing Rehabilitation Loans and Grants ;
The Federal Housing Act of 1968 provides for more flexi-
bility in the extension of low-interest, long-term rehab-
ilitation loans and grants to areas outside urban renewal
and code enforcement areas. As guidelines for eligibility
becomes available, these and other housing programs will
be investigated for application in Dorchester.
6 o Neighborhood Development Program (NDP) ;
NDP is a new way of planning, budgeting and financing of
community improvements. A more flexible method of combining
interrelated programs such as housing, recreation and
economic development is permitted under this new federal
7. Zoning District Changes ;
As an improvement plan is developed hy Dorchester residents
and staff planners, changes in zoning districts may be
appropriate to aid in guiding new development. In addition,
development sites over one acre in size may be eligible for
special planning and design review to insure development
under the "Planned Development Area" designation in the
Boston Zoning Code.
8. Middle Income Housing Development ;
Middle income housing programs sponsored by HUD (better
known as the 221(d)(3) program and more recently the
236 program) can be encouraged for extensive use in Dor-
chester. To date, only one new 221(d)(3) project has been
built in Dorchester and another is planned. Basically,
these programs encourage the establishment of non-profit
corporations to sponsor new moderate income or rehabilitated
9 . Capital Improvement Plan ;
An important outcome of the Dorchester Study may be a plan
for the improvement of all public facilities, called a
Capital Improvement Plan. All public improvements may be
budgeted and scheduled for programmed development in a
city-wide Capital Improvement Program.
All of the above programs and others will be explored as
possible aids for improvements in Dorchester.
MBTA South Shore Extension
Model Cities Area
Codes Enforcement Area
Field's Corner Library
MBTA Stations to be Modernized
Urban Beautif ication Projects
Site of Expo Boston '76 -
University of Massachusetts
DISTRICT PLANNING PROGRAM
BOSTON REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY
SUMMARY OF CURRENT PLANS AND PROPOSALS
1. Although not located in Dorchester, the proposed South-
west Expressway when linked to the proposed inner belt, should
ease through traffic volume on several major arteries and en-
hance development possibilities in the general area. However,
the replacement of the NHRR tracks by the Expressway will in-
crease railroad traffic on the remaining Midland Division throiagh
2. The Model City Program (which includes a portion of Dorches-
ter outside our study area) will attack a variety of problems
facing residents of the area and could provide additional low-
cost housing, job training, health services and other improve-
ments to the surrounding community.
3. The Boston Rehabilitation Program, a privately administered
program using federal subsidies, has rehabilitated over 600
housing units in Dorchester. These units provide additional
sound housing for the Dorchester community and aid in upgrading
surrounding neighborhoods .
4. The federally approved Code Enforcement Program for the
Fields Corner area will aid in conserving neighborhoods of
standard housing by providing low-interest, long-term loans
for rehabilitation as well as provide for public improvements.
5. The proposed Infill Housing Program would increase the sup-
ply of large unit housing for low and middle income families
and would utilize vacant city-owned properties.
6-. The MBTA plans indicate that three rapid transit stations —
Fields Corner, Columbia Station and Shawmut — will be remodeled.
Such improvements could provide the impetus for further up-
grading of these areas. In addition, the rapid transit exten-
sion to the South Shore community, now uinder construction, will
further extend and increase service.
7. Three new coramimity schools (New Marshall School, Olney
Street School, Joseph Lee School) will be constructed by 1970.
These schools will permit the closing of many outdated and
8. Three new libraries will be constructed replacing the
Fields Corner Library, the Mt . Bowdoin Branch and the Lower
9. Additional improvements to public facilities are
planned auid include the following: the relocation of
the Gibson Street Public Works Yard to a site in the vi-
cinity of Alsen Playground and Mapes Street; the construc-
tion of a new police station on Gibson Street to replace
the one at Field's Corner; and an addition to Cleveland
Junior High School including a new gymnasium, classrooms
and a cafeteria.
10. Between 1968 and 1970, the Urban Beautif ication Pro-
gram will provide improvements, such as redesign, land-
scaping and additional play apparatus to Columbus Park,
Franklin Field, Gibson-Doherty Playground, Ronan Park,
Savin Hill Park, Dorchester Park, Almont Street Play-
ground, Cronin Playground and Hemenway .Playground.
11. The tentative proposals for a new community and a
world's fair in the Dorchester Bay area could stimulate
existing and new businesses and expand job opportunities.
In addition, the new community could increase access to the
waterfront and increase recreational possibilities.
12. The University of Massachusetts is planning to locate
its $350 million Campus on Columbia Point. With its anti-
cipated enrollment of 15,000 students and 4,000 faculty
and staff, it will bring considerable economic and social
benefits to Dorchester. Such benefits may include employ-
ment possibilities during construction as well as on the
university staff. Higher educational opportunities will be
within easy reach of all Dorchester residents.
While it is evident that Dorchester neighborhoods have
many resources which are assets to the community, it is
just as evident that there are as many problems which are
neighborhood liabilities. In order to preserve Dorchester
as a sound and viable community, it is necessary to under-
take actions which meet immediate needs, while developing
longer range plans for programmed improvement of the
This report represents a first step in determining problem
areas. The next step involves formation of a Dorchester
Advisory Committee to detail problems, establish priorities
and determine problem solving actions for the planned
improvement of Dorchester.